Persistence and perseverance seem to have very similar definitions.

Googling shows

persistence: Firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

perseverance: Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

What is the difference between them?

  • 2
    There are many contexts where the two words are actual or near synonyms. In others, such as persistence of vision only the first word can be used. Perseverance requires a personified agent exercising willpower. Persistence doesn't - but if there is one, it often implies being tiresome rather than resolute. Sep 8, 2011 at 21:12
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    I don't think this is general reference. You can read the definitions as many times as you want, and still not have a good idea of when to use which word.
    – Marthaª
    Sep 8, 2011 at 23:54

1 Answer 1


"Persistence" is used in the sense of "stubborn" (obstinate). There could be a slight negative connotation. For example:

The telemarketers persistently called us.

We don't say they "perseverantly" called us. "Persistent" is used when there continuing action, and the purpose is either bad, or neutral, and sometimes(rarely) good.

"Perseverance", is used when the purpose is good. That is, you're doing something to help someone, or to achieve a desirable goal, such as climbing Mt. Everest.

Depending on how you feel on something, you could use "perseverance"/"Persistence". For example, the telemarketer calling you, could annoy you, and you could call him "obstinately persistent". But to the marketer, you might be to him, a tough customer, and he might seem to himself "bravely perseverant in trying to persuade this tough customer."

As you can see, it gives a different "feel" about the thing described.

  • Perseverance is less valuable. Humans have a tendency to ❛rest on their laurels❜, to 'get soft' when things are easy. With persistence, you continue through both wins and losses. Aug 13, 2018 at 13:33
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    If someone is studying something for a longer period, is he rather a "persistent learner" (which yields more hits at google) or a "persevering learner" (which seem to be used more often in bible references and on religious websites)?
    – kalle
    Dec 28, 2018 at 9:10

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